Dental Crowns

A crown, sometimes called a cap, is a restoration that covers a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size, strengthening and improving the appearance of a tooth. Crowns are necessary when a tooth is generally broken down and fillings won’t solve the problem. If a tooth is cracked, a crown holds the tooth together to seal the cracks so the damage doesn’t get worse. Crowns are also used to restore a tooth when there isn’t enough of the tooth remaining to provide support for a large filling, attach a bridge, protect weak teeth from fracturing, restore fractured teeth or cover badly shaped or discolored teeth.
To prepare the tooth for a crown, it is first reduced enough so the crown can fit over it. An impression of the teeth and gums is made and sent to the lab for the crown fabrication. A temporary crown is fitted over the tooth until the permanent crown is made. On the next visit, we remove the temporary crown and cement the permanent crown onto the tooth.  The crown can be made of gold, alloy, porcelain, or a combination of these materials.  Once cemented permanently, it can only be removed by a dentist.

Why crowns and not veneers?

Crowns require more tooth structure removal, hence they cover more of the tooth than veneers. Crowns are customarily indicated for teeth that have sustained significant loss of structure or to replace missing teeth. Crowns may be placed on natural teeth or on dental implants.

How long do crowns last?

Crowns should last approximately five to eight years. However, with good oral hygiene and supervision, most crowns will last for a much longer period of time. Some damaging habits like grinding your teeth, chewing ice or fingernail biting may cause this period of time to decrease significantly.

How should I take care of my crown?

To prevent damaging or fracturing the crown, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects. You also want to avoid teeth grinding. If you grind your teeth while sleeping, you may need a nightguard or occlusal guard.  Besides visiting your dentist and brushing twice a day, cleaning between your teeth is vital with crowns. Floss or interdental cleaners (specially shaped brushes and sticks) are important tools to remove plaque from the crown area where the gum meets the tooth. Plaque in that area can cause dental decay under the crown and the need to replace the crown and/or gum disease.

Do crowns look natural?

Yes.  Dr. Eichenlaub’s main goal is to create a crown that looks like a natural tooth. That is why an impression is taken. To achieve a certain look, a number of factors are considered, such as the color, bite, shape and length of your natural teeth. Any one of these factors alone can affect your appearance.  If you have a certain cosmetic look in mind for your crown, discuss it with us at your initial visit. When the procedure is complete, your teeth will not only be stronger, but they may be more attractive.

Dental Implants

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A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is surgically anchored into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge in place. The benefit of using implants is that they don’t rely on neighboring teeth for support and they are permanent and stable. Implants are a good solution to tooth loss because they look and feel like natural teeth.

How do dental implants work?

Strategically placed, implants can now be used to support permanently cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. The cost tends to be greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble real teeth and ideally last a lifetime.

Can anyone receive dental implants?

Dr. Eichenlaub can talk to you about whether you are an implant candidate. You must be in good health and have the proper bone structure and healthy gums for the implant to stay in place. People who are unable to wear dentures may also be good candidates. If you suffer from chronic problems, such as clenching or bruxism, or systemic diseases, such as diabetes, the success rate for implants decreases.  Additionally, people who smoke or drink alcohol may not be good candidates.

What can I expect during this procedure?

First a surgeon anchors the “artificial root” into your jaw bone. The procedure is done in the dental office with local anesthesia. The gum is then secured over the implant, which will remain covered until it fuses with the bone. The surgeon then uncovers the implant and attaches an extension, or healing cap, to the implant. Finally, Dr. Eichenlaub makes an artificial tooth, or crown, that is attached to the implant post.

How long does the process take?

The process can take up to nine months to complete. Each patient heals differently, so times will vary. After the implant and posts are placed surgically, the healing process takes an average of 3 months but can take up to six months and the fitting of replacement teeth no more than two months. Sometimes, if a patient has good bone quality, posts can be placed and replacement teeth fitted in one appointment.

What is the success rate of implants?

The greatest benefit of implants is that they don’t decay.  If there are no complications which are rare, the implants will last a lifetime.  Another benefit of implants is that they don’t rely on any other teeth in your mouth.  Your natural teeth do not have to be drilled down to place a crown for support.  For many people, implants offer a smile that looks and feels very natural.  Implants are more advantageous over bridges, because 22% of bridged teeth decay and within 15 years 30% of bridged teeth are lost.  Compare this to implants, which within 15 years 98% are still functioning.

How do I care for implants?

Poor oral hygiene is a big reason why some implants fail. It is important to floss and brush around the fixtures at least twice a day. Your dentist will give you specific instructions on how to care for your new implants. Additional cleanings of up to four times per year may be necessary to ensure that you retain healthy gums.

What is the cost of implants?

Since implants involve surgery and are more involved, they cost more than traditional bridgework. However, some dental procedures and portions of the restoration may be covered by dental and medical insurance policies. Insurance companies are beginning to recognize implants as a valuable procedure.  Your dentist can help you with this process.

Painless Dentistry

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At our office it is our mission to make your visit as comfortable and pain free as possible. We start off by explaining treatment needed before it is done, and answering any questions you may have. We work with each patient to only do what they can emotionally tolerate at each appointment.

Local Anesthesia

Dr. Eichenlaub repeatedly receives comments from her patients about what a great painless injection she gives! For many restorative procedures some form of local anesthesia is normally necessary to avoid dental discomfort. Dr. Eichenlaub uses the smallest dental needle that is possible.  She uses topical gel to numb the gum area before the placement of the needle.  She then gives a very slow injection.  Most people who have had a bad experience with injections feel a sting because the anesthetic was administered too quickly. Even children don’t realize they received an injection when Dr. Eichenlaub uses her technique.

Root Canal Therapy

Underneath your tooth’s outer enamel and within the dentin is an area of soft tissue called the pulp tissue. While a tooth’s pulp tissue does contain nerve fibers, it is also composed of arteries, veins, lymph vessels, and connective tissue. Each tooth’s nerve enters the tooth at the very tip of its roots. From there, the nerve runs through the center of the root in small “root canals,” which join up with the tooth’s pulp chamber. Root canals are very small, thin divisions that branch off from the top pulp chamber down to the tip of the root. A tooth has at least one but no more than four root canals.

Why do I feel pain?

When the pulp becomes infected due to a deep cavity or fracture bacteria can seep in and the pulp can die. Injury due to trauma can also have the same effect.  Damaged or dead pulp causes increased blood flow and cellular activity, and pressure cannot be relieved from inside the tooth. Pain in the tooth is commonly felt when biting down, chewing on it and applying hot or cold foods and drinks.

Why do I need root canal therapy?

Root canal therapy is necessary because the tooth will not heal by itself. Without treatment, the infection will spread, bone around the tooth will begin to degenerate and the tooth may fall out. Pain usually worsens until one is forced to seek emergency dental attention. The only alternative is usually extraction of the tooth, which can cause surrounding teeth to shift crookedly, resulting in a bad bite. Though an extraction is cheaper, the space left behind will require an implant or a bridge, which can be more expensive than root canal therapy. If you have the choice, it’s always best to keep your original teeth.

What is a root canal procedure?

A root canal is a procedure done to save the damaged or dead pulp in the root canal of the tooth by cleaning out the diseased pulp and reshaping the canal. The canal is filled with a rubberlike substance called gutta–percha or another material to prevent recontamination of the tooth. The tooth is then permanently sealed, with possibly a post and/or a crown made of porcelain or metal alloy. This enables patients to keep the original tooth.

What is involved in root canal therapy?

Once Dr. Eichenlaub performs tests on the tooth and recommends therapy, she can perform the treatment or refer you to an endodontist (a pulp specialist). Treatment usually involves one to three appointments.

First, you will probably be given a local anesthetic to numb the area. A rubber sheet is then placed around the tooth to isolate it. Next, an opening is drilled from the crown into the pulp chamber, which, along with the root canal, is cleaned of all diseased pulp and reshaped.

Medication may be inserted into the area to fight bacteria. Depending on the condition of the tooth, the crown may then be sealed temporarily to guard against recontamination, the tooth may be left open to drain or the dentist may go right ahead and fill the canals.

If you’re given a temporary filling, usually on the next visit it’s removed and the pulp chamber and canal(s) are filled with gutta percha or another material to prevent recontamination. If the tooth is still weak, a metal post may be inserted above the canal filling to reinforce the tooth. Once filled, the area is permanently sealed. Finally, a gold or porcelain crown is normally placed over the tooth to strengthen its structure and improve appearance.

What are the risks and complications?

More than 95 percent of root canal treatments are successful. However, sometimes a procedure needs to be redone due to diseased canal offshoots that went unnoticed or the fracture of a filing instrument, both of which rarely occur. Occasionally, a root canal therapy will fail altogether, marked by a return of pain.

What happens after treatment?

Natural tissue inflammation may cause discomfort for a few days, which can be controlled by an over-the-counter analgesic. A follow-up exam can monitor tissue healing. From this point on, brush and floss regularly, avoid chewing hard foods with the treated tooth, and see your dentist regularly.

Are there options to root canal therapy?

The only alternative to root canal therapy is to extract the tooth; however, this alone can cause the surrounding teeth to move, resulting in a bad bite. Though a simple extraction may be perceived as less expensive, the empty space left behind will require an implant or a bridge, which ultimately will be more costly than root canal therapy.

Dental Bridges

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A bridge is a fixed prosthesis that is used to replace one or more missing teeth.  If you are missing any teeth, you may notice it is more difficult to chew or speak.  Replacing the missing tooth or teeth will help you eat more efficiently and comfortably, as well as keep the proper shape of your face.

If you are wondering how replacing missing teeth affects your face, read on.  As teeth are lost, the remaining teeth may begin to shift.  As teeth move into spaces, you may suffer from “bite collapse.”  This decrease in vertical height will give your face an older, more sunken in appearance.

A bridge is fabricated in multiple visits and is custom fit to your circumstance.  It can be made of gold, alloy, porcelain, or a combination of these materials.  Once inserted it is cemented in place and can only be removed by your dentist.

A bridge is often comprised of three or more crowns soldered together.  Let us use the example of one missing tooth.  The bridge would consist of crowning each tooth on either side of the space.  There would then be a third crown floating over the space of the missing tooth and attached to the other two crowns.  Since the bridge is fabricated over natural teeth it is important to keep these teeth healthy by proper home hygiene and regular check-ups.

Invisible Fillings

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If a small to moderately sized cavity is found in a tooth, a filling may be indicated.  Dr. Eichenlaub uses white fillings that are made of composite resin for most fillings.  Today’s composites are much stronger than when they were first introduced in the 1960’s, and they are strong enough to hold up to the pressure and wear generated by the back teeth.  They are also more aesthetic and may be used to improve your smile by restoring gaps and chips in the front teeth.

In addition to looking better, composite fillings bond to the tooth and therefore support the remaining tooth structure.  This helps prevent breakage.  Furthermore, since the composites are not thermal conductors like silver fillings, they tend to better insulate the tooth from temperature changes.

What is a Composite Resin “White Filling?”

A composite filling is a tooth-colored plastic and glass mixture used to restore decayed teeth. Composites can also be used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.

How is a composite placed?

Following preparation, the dentist places the composite in layers, typically using a light specialized to harden each layer. When the process is finished, the dentist will shape the composite to fit the tooth. The dentist then polishes the composite to prevent staining and early wear.

What are the advantages of composites?

Aesthetics are the main advantage of composites, since dentists can blend shades to create a color nearly identical to that of the actual tooth. Composites bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure, which helps to prevent breakage and insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes.

Porcelain Veneers

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Veneers are ultra-thin shells of ceramic (porcelain) or a composite resin material, which are bonded to the front of teeth. This procedure requires little or no anesthesia and can be the ideal choice for improving the appearance of the front teeth. Veneers are placed to mask discolorations, to brighten teeth and to improve a smile.  They are a simple way to correct gaps, misshaped or crooked teeth.

In some situations, veneers may be an excellent alternative to crowns. They provide a much more conservative approach to changing a tooth’s color, size or shape. Veneers can mask undesirable defects, such as teeth stained by tetracycline and damage due to an injury. They are ideal for masking discolored fillings in front teeth. Patients with gaps between their front teeth or teeth that are chipped or worn may consider veneers. Generally, veneers will last for many years, and the technique has shown remarkable longevity when properly performed.

Porcelain veneers are superior to bonding with composite resin because they are highly resistant to permanent staining from coffee, tea, soda, and cigarettes.

Process for Getting Veneers

To prepare the teeth for the veneers, the teeth are lightly buffed to allow for the small added thickness of the veneer. On average, about half a millimeter of the tooth is removed, which may require a local anesthetic. Composite resin veneers are generally done in one appointment. After the tooth is prepared, the dentist carefully bonds and sculpts the composite material onto your teeth. For ceramic veneers, a mold is taken of the teeth, which is sent to the laboratory for the fabrication of the veneers. This may take several days or up to 2 weeks. If the teeth are too unsightly, a temporary veneer can be placed.

When your ceramic veneers are ready, the dentist places each veneer on the teeth to check their fit and get a sense of the shade or color.  At this point, the color of the veneers can still be adjusted with the shade of the cement to be used. The color cannot be altered after the veneers are cemented. To apply the veneer, the tooth is cleansed with specific chemicals to achieve a bond. Once the special cement is sandwiched between the veneer and tooth, a light is directed at the tooth to harden the cement.

What to Expect with Veneers

For about a week or two, you will go through a period of adjustment as you get used to your “new” teeth that have changed in size and shape. Brush and floss daily. After one or two weeks, your dentist will ask you to return for a follow-up appointment.

Veneers are reasonable facsimiles of natural teeth, not perfect replacements. It’s not uncommon to see slight variations in the color of veneers upon close inspection, as this occurs even in natural teeth. Nevertheless, this procedure can greatly enhance your smile and can heighten self-esteem.

Invisalign Clear Braces

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Invisalign is a virtually invisible way to straighten your teeth without braces. The Invisalign system uses a series of clear, removable aligners to move your teeth over time to give you the smile you desire. Each aligner, which is worn for two weeks, is individually manufactured with exact calculations to gradually shift your teeth into place. And since your Invisalign system is custom-made for your teeth and your teeth only, with a plan devised by you and Dr. Eichenlaub, you know you’ll end up with a smile that truly fits.

Once you and Dr. Eichenlaub decide that Invisalign is the treatment of choice for you, a records appointment is necessary. Radiographs, photographs, and impressions of your teeth are taken. The impressions are then digitized in order for her to work with a computerized 3-D image of your teeth. Then the timeline for movement is mapped out. Once you receive your aligners, you should wear them at all times except when you eat, drink, brush, and floss.

Short appointments to track your progress are made approximately once a month. During the entire treatment process, you will be able to watch your teeth gradually move into place. Your smile will, little by little, move into something you’d like to show off.


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There is no better complement to a dazzling smile than great looking skin. If you are concerned with lines and wrinkles around your smile and face, you can benefit from two of the most popular, simple and effective FDA approved wrinkle fighters. Botox and Juvederm treatments provide the final puzzle piece to a picture-perfect smile. Your face is the frame for any cosmetic dentistry procedure. Imagine the dramatic results you could have if Botox or filler treatments could improve the appearance of the skin around your smile.

Botox Cosmetic is a safe and effective way to temporarily relax the facial muscles and reduce wrinkles. It can be used to treat visible signs of aging in such areas as frown lines, crow’s feet, brow wrinkles and wrinkles around the lips. The average treatment will provide up to four months of results. When you combine Botox Cosmetic with your dental work, you can achieve a younger, more appealing look that helps renew self-confidence and restore feelings of beauty. It can also be used for therapeutic reasons to treat muscle spasms, involuntary teeth clenching and other symptoms of TMJ.

Dermal fillers such as Juvederm or Radiesse are used to correct, enhance and restore volume to facial folds, providing you with a more youthful and rested appearance. Juvederm is a smooth consistency gel made of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring substance in your skin, which helps to add and restore volume lost with age. Results can last 6 months to 1 year. Dermal fillers can be used to treat nasolabial folds (smile lines), marionette lines, corners of the mouth, and for fuller lips.

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